OWLS HEAD, Maine — Residents will decide Monday evening on whether to make the 57-year-old private fire unit into a town department.
Fire Chief Frank Ross said members of the Owls Head Volunteer Fire Company approached the selectmen for the change. The company, founded in 1959, has been operated as a private nonprofit corporation run by a seven-member board of directors. Those directors include four firefighters and three selectmen.
The change to be voted on at Owl Head’s annual town meeting would make the fire department a municipal department under the control of the town. The volunteer company has 28 members.
The nonprofit corporation would continue to operate but only to raise money for fire equipment, the chief said.
“Basically, the company would be getting out of the firefighting business,” Ross said.
Ross has been with the fire organization for 40 years and has been its chief for 37 years. He said he hopes to continue on as chief if the change of control is approved.
Selectmen would have the power to appoint a chief for five-year terms under the proposed ordinance.
“This [proposed change] is a better system. It will be more modern,” Ross said.
He said under the current system some members of the board, which elect the chief, are also under his command.
The proposed change will be voted on a little more than a week after a state judge sided with the town in throwing out a lawsuit filed by the owner of Frankie’s Garage. Owner Cecil Fogg had claimed that the chief and the department inadequately responded to the fire that destroyed his commercial garage in 2013.
Residents is also expected to vote Monday night on a proposed $1,051,076 municipal budget for 2016-2017. This is down 6 percent from the current budget. The largest accounts in the proposed budget are $521,914 for public works, $267,808 for general government, and $250,604 for public safety. The decrease is largely because of a $40,000 reduction in the public works budget.
Residents also will elect one selectman as well as road commissioner, harbor master and the advisory town council. The selectman seat held by Chair Linda Post is up for election. She said Tuesday she plans to seek re-election.